Risking Sight, Sense, and Selfies: A Journey of Poetics and Identity in the 21st Century


“Lively and intact in a recurring wave/Of arrival. The soul establishes itself./ But how far can it swim out through the eyes/And still return safely to its nest?” asks John Ashbery in “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” In this workshop, we’ll explore the answer to his question through the use of visual art prompts and generative practices that reveal the psyche beneath the surface of our poems. We’ll focus on sensory detail through observation and close reading, placing particular emphasis on the use of imagery. We’ll also discuss poetry’s relationship to the current gears of technology and new media. How do we create, reinvent, risk, (in)validate, and erase “self” in proportion to the vast, global mediums? Many of the images that we create together will serve as our texts. We’ll consider how light and texture “frame” poems by reading work that focuses on the seen and unseen forces of the physical world. Students will participate in basic photography tasks, such as creating self-portraits, and field writing assignments with a goal of creating individual e-folios of art and text. Bring your eyes and your instincts!